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Preventing a killer: Participants sought for national cancer study

June 30, 2013|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • The Third National Cancer Prevention Study, known as the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3), a national study that hopes to enroll a diverse population of Americans so that researchers can better understand the genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that cause or prevent cancer.
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There are three words in the English vocabulary that no one wants to hear:  You have cancer.

It’s a diagnosis that can bring shock, fear, physical challenges and emotional upheaval — affecting every aspect of your existence.

It’s a no-nonsense disease that doesn’t play fair, picking fights with young and old, male and female, rearing its ugly head when you least expect it.

But what if there was a superhero who could knock out cancer, crushing it from ever harming another life?

That superhero could be you.

For the first time in more than 30 years, the American Cancer Society is undertaking a landmark research project with the ultimate goal of eliminating cancer as a major health concern. 

And it’s looking for participants who are willing to lend a hand.

It’s the Third National Cancer Prevention Study, known as the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3), a national study that hopes to enroll a diverse population of Americans so that researchers can better understand the genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that cause or prevent cancer.

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Pilot work for the study began in 2006, said Mia Gaudet, PhD, the American Cancer Society’s director of genetic epidemiology in Atlanta.

“Enrollment was slowly rolled out and, now, we are in full-scale recruitment to meet our goal of 300,000 participants by the end of the year,” she noted.  “As of the end of June 2013, we have enrolled just shy of 25,000 people in 33 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.”

More than 2,000 persons have already enrolled for the study in Maryland, including about 148 from  Washington County, said Vivienne Stearns-Elliott, spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society’s South Atlantic Division in Baltimore. 

Organizers are hoping to recruit 500 participants during local enrollment, which will be held from Tuesday, July 9, to Saturday, July 13. 

Stearns-Elliott said cancer prevention studies from past decades have helped researchers make medical advances that have reduced the number of cancer deaths. CPS-1 established the link between smoking and lung cancer in the 1950s. The findings from CPS-2, which ran from 1982 to 2006, have linked obesity to the risk of several cancers. It also linked smoking in young women to an increased risk of advanced breast cancer later in life.

“For each generation, the American Cancer Society offers a cancer prevention study, so this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make a difference,” she noted.

According to Gaudet, the American Cancer Society started CPS-3 to understand the risk factors for today’s population.

“Our lives are very different from those of our parents and grandparents, who were represented in the previous Cancer Prevention Study-1 and Study-2,” she noted.  “For example, we have jobs that keep us in an office chair for most of the day; we are gaining weight faster and starting at a younger age; women are having children later in life and fewer of them; our diets include more fast food; and we are taking newer medications. The American Cancer Society wants to understand how these aspects of our modern lifestyle will affect our risk of cancer.  So we started Cancer Prevention Study-3.” 

To be eligible to enroll in CPS-3, Stearns-Elliott said participants must be between 30 and 65 years of age and never diagnosed with cancer, except for basal or squamous cell skin carcinoma. You must also be committed to filling out lifestyle surveys that will be mailed to you over the next 20 to 30 years.

Enrollees do not have to be residents of Washington County, she added.  

All information is confidential and there is no cost to participate in the study.

According to Stearns-Elliott, the enrollment process involves a few simple steps. First, to schedule your enrollment appointment go to www.cps3washing tonCounty.org or call 1-888-604-5888. After scheduling your appointment, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions to go online and complete a comprehensive survey, regarding medications, lifestyle and other behaviors. This survey should be completed prior to your appointment time. 

The next step takes place at a local enrollment site, where you will be asked to read and sign a consent form, complete a brief written survey, provide a waist measurement and give a small blood sample, collected by a certified phlebotomist. Your appointment should last about 20 to 30 minutes.

Then, periodically over the upcoming years, you will receive a survey at home to update the information you have provided.

“If you’re not eligible to enroll, please encourage your family, friends and neighbors to participate,” Stearns-Elliott said. “You could be helping individuals in the future from hearing those three dreaded words: You have cancer.”

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